For children, asthma can be a real challenge. With their active lifestyles, triggers such as exertion and environmental allergens are often difficult to avoid. The Lung Association recently noted that uncontrolled asthma is the leading cause of hospitalization of kids in Canada. While there may not be a cure for Asthma there are ways to help kids treat and manage its symptoms.
What is asthma?
Asthma is a chronic disease that makes breathing difficult. When someone with asthma encounters a “trigger” (something that irritates the condition like physical activity, smoke or cold or humid temperatures, to name a few) or when they breath in something they are allergic to, one of two things occurs in their airways:
1) They become red, swollen and mucous-filled; or
2) The muscles around them begin to twitch or spasm
In either scenario, the movement of air through these airways becomes restricted in, which can cause wheezing, coughing fits, feelings of tightness in the chest and shortness of breath. (Check out this great animation from About Kids Health about what happens during an asthma attack)
How is it managed?
One of the most important things parents and caregivers can do for children is work with their doctor to get their asthma under control. The Lung Association of Canada has an excellent tool available on their website called the Asthma Action Plan. Fill it in with the help of your child’s doctor to help identify when their asthma is under control, getting worse and when they need to seek emergency assistance.
Need more information? Here are a couple of our favourite online asthma resources: